It’s been a busy week but I wanted to tell you about this new farming book as it will be on sale at the Ploughing Championships. I was late to their book launch as I was doing a talk on crowdfunding and when I got to Ann and Robin Talbot’s farm, there were loads of people milling around with their copies of ‘A Year on the Farm’.
Beef farmers from Co. Laois and part-time agricultural journalists, Ann and Robin have recorded life on their farm over the course of a year. Not only do you read about individual beef cattle but you also discover how they are reared and finished for the factory. You see the quality of the green grass and the other foodstuffs required to finish them. Ann has written a chapter on everyone that is involved with their farm – from their vet to their workman to students and farm visitors. I also love it because it shows the quality of Irish farming and produce. She has also included some of her favourite farmhouse recipes and I think she’s a woman after my own heart with her claim to be a fast cook rather than a good one.
For all its charm, it is a ‘warts and all’ look at farming and life in general. Ann writes about the death of their precious daughter Rachel as a tiny baby and on the same page, is a reference to a calf dying with pneumonia. We’re all used to life and death on a farm, after all, when there’s livestock, there’s deadstock but to read about the passing away of a precious firstborn newborn, that really is tragic.
Whether you are a farmer or non-farmer, you will enjoy this book. The photography is beautiful and it includes great accounts of how meat is produced. As a farmer, I enjoyed it for its take on farming life, from living with a mother-in-law, the history of the Talbot family and the changes in farming over the years. Ann admits that their farm may not be representative of many in Ireland today in that it’s a substantial size at 600 acres and they are in the enviable position of having low borrowings but nevertheless, it is a wonderful account of life on an Irish farm today and for that reason, it is of historical value for the future too. I’d have loved to have read more about Ann’s family background (and there weren’t any photos of cattle dogs so I guess they don’t have any – I love farm dogs) so I guess I’ll have to meet her for a coffee sometime to get to know her better. I got the impression anyway that she would recommend the life of being married to a farmer!